The heirs of the Aldi founder’s son Berthold Albrecht, who died in 2012, suffered another defeat in the legal battle for power at the discounter Aldi Nord. In a decision published on Thursday, the 3rd Senate of the Schleswig-Holstein Higher Administrative Court confirmed that the current appointment to the board of directors of the “Jakobus Foundation” was unlawful and that two of the four positions on the board of the foundation had to be filled. This would significantly limit the power of the family in the important body.
The Senate emphasized that a corresponding decision by the Rendsburg-Eckernförde district’s foundation supervisory authority was legal and immediately enforceable. The decision of the court is final.
The background to the legal dispute is the complicated ownership structure at Aldi Nord. The company is owned by three foundations based in Schleswig-Holstein: the Markus, the Lukas and the Jakobus Foundation. Large investments and important decisions can only be approved by the foundations unanimously.
In December 2017, the higher administrative court had declared a change in the statutes of the Jakobus Foundation to be legal, with which Berthold Albrecht shortly before his death limited the influence of the family heirs on the fate of the discounter. Accordingly, only two family members should be represented on the foundation board. There should also be a person from the board of directors of the Aldi Nord group of companies and a lawyer from the company’s environment. However, the family resists it.
The board of the foundation currently consists of three daughters of Berthold Albrecht, who are beneficiaries of the foundation, and a lawyer who advises the family and, according to the court, does not meet the requirements of the foundation statutes.
The higher administrative court emphasized that the constitutional composition of the foundation’s board of directors led to its lack of a quorum. This endangers the purpose of the foundation, which consists, among other things, of promoting the Aldi Nord group of companies with the income from the foundation’s assets.
There is also the danger that the distributions to the family members decided by the foundation board will neglect this task. Because the amount and frequency of payments is “entirely at the discretion” of the current foundation board members and not legitimized due to the incorrect composition of the board.
In view of the urgency, the Higher Administrative Court ordered the immediate enforceability of the decision.
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